Thursday, August 30, 2007

Minivan Donation Serves Multiple Purposes

Grand Caravan


Makes Me Want To Buy A Chrysler

On May 22, 2007, one family was forever changed when gunmen stormed an Illinois Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, killing Tramaine Gibson Sr., a husband and a father of seven. Gibson worked as a teller at the bank and attended college part-time, working toward a degree in criminal justice. He was an active member of his church, ministering to the youth and the community. His was a very promising life cut short.

Last week, as Chrysler released the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans to Chicago dealers, the automaker donated that area’s first 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan to the family of Tramaine Gibson.

The cynical side of me knows why Chrysler did this (publicity galore, good corporate citizenship), and when I told my husband about it, he scoffed that their motivations weren’t “pure.” Personally, I say who cares about Chrysler’s motivations?

Call me a sucker, but I’m touched by this — it’s personal and it’s meaningful. It is a small gesture toward one family for whom it will make a difference. I like random acts of kindness, and as a result, I’m loving Chrysler for doing this. I know that’s what the company wants; in fact, I’m probably the target market Chrysler wants to reach with this donation. I’m a middle-class, married mother of one, thinking about having more children and knowing my Volkswagen Jetta won’t last as my family grows. Stories like this almost make me want to buy a Town & Country, even though long ago, when I was younger and much cooler, I swore I would never drive a minivan. Life never turns out how you imagined it would, does it?

I’d encourage every car manufacturer to give away cars to folks who really need them. Go ahead and publicize it — get into a big, philanthropic competition. It’s cheaper than primetime TV spots, and they would be acting as benefactors to people who could really use some help.

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